Tips for Making A Shower Easier with Pulmonary Fibrosis.Posted by Charlene Marshall on March 7, 2019 at 8:22 am
Nearly a year ago, my wonderful co-columnist Kim Frederickson wrote a column about taking showers with pulmonary fibrosis and how this task can wear patients out. Admittedly, one year ago I couldn’t relate to her column, although I certainly respected it because she is an amazing writer and was sharing tips on how to make this task easier for everyone. I just was in a place where I could manage this daily activity without getting tuckered out, however, this has drastically changed in the last year.
Showering used to be so soothing and calming for me, often relieving muscular pain and washing away the stresses of the day, both literally and figuratively. Unfortunately this is something else that has become challenging since my diagnosis of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) nearly three years ago. I dread showering at the moment because it truly does tire me out, even with my supplemental oxygen. I always feel better after a hot shower but the task of doing this feels so daunting some days.
Recently when I caught myself dreading a shower, despite my aching neck and shoulders, I remembered Kim’s column and chose to read about her tips for making the task of showering just a little easier. Here are her tips, verbatim, that have been most helpful for me when it comes to showering with IPF:
- Make sure your cannula is long enough to make it to the shower and over the door easily
- Increase your liters per minute when in the shower. Standing takes more oxygen than sitting.
- Make sure to use the exhaust fan in the bathroom when you shower to suck the moist air out of your bathroom. The room can get warm and humid and make you even more tired. It can also be damaging to your oxygen concentrator to take in steam from your bath or shower.
- If you aren’t able to stand, or prefer not to, you can buy a shower chair to sit on so you are safe.
Something Kim mentioned as well, but I thought it really important to note here: make sure to tell someone you’re going to have a shower, so they can keep an ear out if you need assistance.
Has showering become a daunting or difficult task since your IPF/PF diagnosis?
Do you have any tips to add to Kim’s helpful list?
MemberMarch 7, 2019 at 10:17 am
Good morning! I’m so glad to see this topic. I have been too embarrassed to admit that I have such a strong fear of taking a shower. My main fear is that I will get light headed and/or lose my balance and fall. I live alone, so if I were to hit my head and lose consciousness, nobody would know that I needed help. I’m not on oxygen yet, but have had falling spells. I would appreciate any suggestions! Thank you! Laura
MemberMarch 8, 2019 at 10:13 am
Good Morning Laura,
I completely understand your experience, I wasn’t sure about writing about this topic as I feared others might not relate. Kim gave me a lot of confidence to post this, as I knew she was struggling with it awhile back and now that I am, I figured others must also be having the same trouble. It feels embarrassing for us to admit that a simple task of showering can be difficult, isn’t it? I didn’t want to admit this either but I get a lot of comfort knowing that I am not alone in this.
Do you currently use a shower stool or grab bars? These have been really helpful in offering us an opportunity to sit down and regain some breath/energy while in the shower. This might be a more “simple” first step you can take, or I wonder if the doctors would prescribe you oxygen if you mention your fear of showering and getting dizzy/fainting? Especially since you live alone, I think this is a very valid fear. Although getting oxygen isn’t an easy thing to adjust to, I find it comforting to have it on at night and in the shower, so at least I know I am not depriving my body of oxygen during a physical task or when I might not be as consciously aware (ie. when I’m sleeping). What do you think?
MemberMarch 8, 2019 at 10:08 am
I have been feeling the same about having a shower, it is so flipping hard work! It is worth bearing in mind that the physics of warm damp air dictates that it contains far less oxygen. Basically you are breathing in more water and less oxygen. As I live in a low lying rather humid part of the UK I notice on a warm day that I find my breathing becomes more laboured. It is thought to concider if intending to fly to tropical areas where the relative humidity can reach 95% or more. Have a practice run in a hot steamy shower!!
Right…..back to steeling myself for today’s shower 🙁
MemberMarch 8, 2019 at 10:15 am
Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on this topic. As I mentioned to Laura above, it is so comforting to know that others share this same struggle, although I certainly wish it wasn’t something any of us had to deal with. As of late, the task of showering has become so exhausting for me! Do you find anything particularly helpful in showering, or anything that makes this task a little easier? Other than putting a seat in the shower, and ensuring my oxygen is turned up, I haven’t found anything especially helpful but even with these solutions, showering does take a lot out of me. I don’t get dizzy or anything, and can breathe (because I have my POC on) but I find I need to lay down and rest for a few minutes after my shower now, and I never needed to do this before.
Goodluck with today, and thanks again for writing!
MemberApril 12, 2019 at 4:59 pm
Hi @lowe and Charlene:
Before I knew I had IPF and in preparation for a total hip replacement, I had my tub cut, so that I could walk in to my tub, to take a shower. That and the grab bars helped me during my hip replacement recovery.
MemberApril 14, 2019 at 7:32 pm
Thanks so much for writing and sharing this helpful tip with us! I had no idea you could have your bath tub cut to be more accessible and have less of a step-in…. that’s so interesting. Was it a big renovation project to go through to have this made possible? Something for many of us to consider I think, especially as our disease progresses. Grab bars are definitely important and helpful too. Thanks for sharing, I am going to keep this in mind for future as I suspect I’ll need it someday.
MemberApril 15, 2019 at 8:59 am
Here is a good backgrounder on a tub cut: http://homeability.com/tub-cut-guide/
I think I paid $500 (US), a couple of years ago, and it took one worker about 6 or 7 hours. He put up plastic containment sheets and a large exhaust hose out the window. He was able to match the tub color, not always the case. So when my folks had theirs done, he could not match the color and they chose a different color. No leaks or drama, I am glad I had it done.
I would be afraid to get one of those prehab stalls over the existing tub, sometimes water gets behind and causes damage. So I thought this was the best option for me.
MemberApril 15, 2019 at 9:00 am
Thanks Lorraine, this is indeed really helpful! I’d never heard of this before, so I’ll definitely look into it when it becomes time that I’d benefit from it. A really helpful link, and I am sure others will be interested in learning more about this too. Thanks again!
MemberMarch 8, 2019 at 10:28 am
I have both grab rails and a shower stool, but a long tube with the concentrator turned up is my salvation. Sit down afterwards (I sit on the lid of the toilet!) to dry yourself , put on your clothes, pick up things that are on the floor and sort out the damp towels. There is no law that says these jobs have to done standing up! Don’t try and do to much for a little while until your lungs get “up to speed” as I say, ie recover a bit!
Happy showering x
MemberMarch 9, 2019 at 8:04 am
Thanks so much for getting back to me regarding this! I’m glad you already have grab bars and a seat in the shower, that is wonderful and a good precaution to already have in place. You’re absolutely right about doing the tasks necessary to tidy up after a shower sitting down, this is another good way to conserve our energy. I’m really glad I can talk about this topic here, as it really isn’t something others can understand: how a “simple” task of showering can be so exhausting, but it really is…
Thanks for helping me feel less alone when it comes to this discussion, I’m glad others are out there who understand this.
MemberMarch 8, 2019 at 11:41 am
Thanks Charlene for the list of shower
tips. I have had exhausted days after showering. I sit down. But, have been leaving my cannula outside the door. Can’t wait to bring it in with me! The fan tip should help too. Thank you for your help.
MemberMarch 9, 2019 at 8:05 am
No problem, I really hope it is helpful for you! We’re stronger together, so I am really glad that this platform exists to discuss topics like showering with PF, as this is something others just cannot understand, no matter how hard they try. I hope some of the solutions make this task a little easier for you.
MemberMarch 9, 2019 at 8:01 am
Hi Charlene. I didn’t realize how challenging a shower could be. Now I’m in and out. I suds up and rinse off. I try to breathe normally. I thought it was just me. This IPF stinks. I took a Zumba class for seniors today, and it’s funny how my friends keep an eye on me. I was never weak like this. I’ve always been so healthy. I digress. Anyway, you are always so helpful. It’s wonderful. Eleanore
MemberMarch 9, 2019 at 8:08 am
So great to hear from you, thanks so much for getting in touch! Yes, isn’t it amazing how exhausting a “simple” daily task can be? When Kim originally posted this topic, I didn’t feel like I could relate as I didn’t have the exhaustion that came from showering one year ago but I certainly do now. I can still shower, luckily, without any issue but notice I am considerably more exhausted afterwards than I ever was before. You’re right – IPF certainly does stink!
Kudos to you for participating in a Zumba class, that is awesome! I know these activities aren’t easy with a lung disease, so I certainly wouldn’t see you as weak, I think you’re very strong. And, glad you have a nice group of friends who are keeping an eye on you 🙂
Take care and thanks for your kind words. So glad you’re part of our wonderful forum community Eleanore!
MemberApril 12, 2019 at 6:14 pm
Hi Charlene: I found this topic to be very helpful and look forward to learning about other tips in relation to Independent Living Skills. Thank you.
MemberApril 15, 2019 at 4:51 am
I am not on oxygen yet but showering as you say is now not a relaxing affair, I am in and out in the shortest time possible, get everything to hand and in I go, not too hot as the steam make me cough badly, quick wash, hair wash and on with the body cream to try and stop the itching and out, all in all 2 minutes tops !!!.
MemberApril 15, 2019 at 9:08 am
Thanks for writing, I completely agree with you about showering no longer being a relaxing affair. It still feels good on my neck and shoulders (the hot water) but it tends to take so much energy from me, which is tough. Do you think you might benefit from having the tub cut eventually Susan? I know you aren’t on oxygen yet, but I’d never heard of this before and I think it might make this process a little easier if I can just step in at ground level as opposed to up and over a tub. So interesting – I’m going to be looking into this more for sure.
Talk to you soon,
MemberApril 16, 2019 at 8:02 am
Had bath removed several years ago so now only got a shower, took tub out after a slip when I came dangerously close to really hurting myself on the opposing sink.
MemberApril 16, 2019 at 8:03 am
Oh gosh, sorry to hear that Susan! Glad that safety risk has been eliminated for you now, smart thinking.
MemberApril 16, 2019 at 10:35 am
My IPF has accelerated over the past six months, my O2 has gone from 6 liters to 7-9 depending on activity. Even at 9 I have to go slowly with rests to let my sats recover. Showering has become an issue. I’m in a wheelchair because walking drops my O2 sats to low 70’s almost immediately.
To shower I get everything set up, shampoo, soap , bathrobe (I use a bathrobe instead of a towel). Let my sats get up to upper 90’s, transfer from wheelchair to bench , wait for O2 to recover, shower, stand, get robe on, back to wheelchair. What makes this possible is a handheld shower head, a walk-in shower, and patience. I forgot, grab bars help me feel safe. We had the shower remodeled about 2 years ago, before I really needed it. Lately I have made sure that my husband is here. Until two weeks ago l felt secure enough to shower when he was gone, now,not so much.
1. Set up
3. Handheld shower head
5. Time and patience
And, ‘Viola!’ (as we say in our t. house), I am clean.
I always feel better after.
MemberApril 17, 2019 at 8:07 am
Thanks so much for getting in touch again and sharing your process for showering safely with IPF. So sorry to hear your oxygen needs have increased in the last six months, it sounds like doing this task has become quite difficult for you. I’m glad you have a process that makes it a bit easier, and that you shower when your husband is home for safety. A hand-held shower head is also a great idea – I must remember this! That said, I tend to make a huge mess of the water when I use this, which if nothing else, lends itself to a good laugh 🙂
I always feel better after a warm shower too, just helps my aching muscles, even if the task feels more daunting these days.
Thanks again for writing Jan.
MemberApril 16, 2019 at 8:00 pm
I also continue to use some of the Hip Replacement Kit items, in and out of the shower.
Kits are sold on Amazon etc and local medical supply stores.
6 Items You Need in a Hip Replacement Kit — see below article link for additional details
- Sock Aid
- Dressing Stick
- Reacher (grabber, also available at Home Depot etc)
- Long Shoe Horn
- Long-Handled Bath Sponge (I also bought Long-Handled Loofah and back scratcher at Dollar Tree)
- Elastic Shoelaces.
Anyway, I thought I would post this information in case anyone finds it helpful.
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